No One Wins When It Come to the Games

Chapter 1

I woke up that morning when the sun shined through my window. The bright white light of the sun almost blinded me as my eyes slowly opened. I groaned and tried to fall back asleep but it was no use. I forced myself out of bed and sluggishly walked to my dresser. I grabbed a pair of my usual rags and changed before going out to find my sister. She was out in the small barn behind our shack of a house milking our cow, Millie.

District ten, the livestock district, was definitely one of the poorer districts. Frankly not as poor as districts eleven and twelve but not rich enough to even compare to the career districts. Everyone raised the cows around here but very few had their own. That was probably the only way my sister and I were lucky. All the beef from the cattle was sent straight to the Capitol, nothing at all saved for us. For the people that were lucky to own cows, they traded the goods from them for other necessities and by the time they had everything they needed there was barely anything left. Even rarer than cows, were horses. There were even fewer of them. Only a couple of them were domesticated. The mayor has two, one for his wife and another for his son. Others that have some are the head peacekeeper and a few of District 10's upper class. The rest of them are wild and live in the Capitol's fenced off areas surrounding the district.

Althea, my sister, was twenty years old and an expecting mother. She had met her husband when they were in school together and fell in love. The week after she turned nineteen they got married to celebrate the fact that they both were no longer in danger of becoming a tribute. He died about six months ago in an argument between the peacekeepers and a friend of his. He was just trying to settle it.

Richter, my brother-in-law before the incident, worked in transporting. He was in the process of moving a few bulls with his co workers and friends when the peacekeepers issued a road block. The calm conversation soon turned violent after one of his friends was angered when the peacekeepers wouldn't tell them a quick alternate route. The bulls also got ornery and while Richter was trying to keep a fight from breaking out, the bulls broke free of their confines and started rampaging. Chaos broke out and Richter was trampled leaving a wife and unborn child behind.

I remembered when Althie first told me she was pregnant. I was so angry. I mean, if you were so happy that you no longer had to worry about being in the Games that you celebrate by getting married, then why would you get pregnant when you are going to lead your child to a similar fate? One where they might actually get picked. I had screamed at her, "How could you let a child be born into this world? This chaos? Do you even care?" She cried that night, all night. I eventually apologized because I admit I was harsh. Normally I'm a very compassionate person but I have a short temper, so I guess in a way that makes me a walking contradiction.

I walked up to Althea, who was just standing up. I grabbed the bucket from under Millie and handed to her and she smiled at me. The argument about the baby was two months ago when she had just started showing and she was getting quite large now, about seven months. When I had apologized I had just dropped the subject completely, we were all each other had left. "You should get ready soon. It is reaping day," she said her face sullen.

"Yeah, I guess," I kicked the dirt at my feet and listened to the deafening silence. "I think I'm going to go check the traps." With that I left and didn't listen to what she had to say. It was always awkward with us on reaping day, ever since what happened to our brother. When I got back to our house I walked into my brother's old room and grabbed his knives from his closet. Kraven was a good brother, sarcastic as he was, and I missed him.

He taught me all the important things in my life today besides walking and talking. He was the one who taught me how to catch small game and kill it so we would have meat to put on the table. He also taught me how to be strong when our parents died two years ago and then if that wasn't enough not long after, he was gone too. He made it far enough in the games. He was clever but it wasn't enough. Since that day when I watched him die on the television screen I've cut myself off from everyone except Althie. That was one of the reasons why I hated the Hunger Games.

I walked to the edge of our small square of land and into the brush that started the woods. I knew if I walked far enough I would reach the electric fence that separated the districts. I saw one of my traps that I had set the morning before with a panicked looking rabbit inside. Yes, I love animals but when it came down to it I'd rather kill and eat a bunny then starve to death. I walked over and untangled it from the snare before killing it quickly. I put it in the small sack I had brought with me and reset the snare before venturing off to check on my other trap. I climbed one of the trees in the area and saw my other trap with a bird in it. I went to grab it but it evaded me and started to fly away. I hurriedly pulled out one of Kraven's small knives and threw it. The knife struck the bird at the base of its neck and I ran to it triumphantly. I picked it up and put it in the bag with the rabbit before running home to get ready for the reaping.

I walked into the house and handed the game to Althea before heading off to our room. I grabbed my best dress and went to the bathroom to wash up before changing. I entered the main room of our house and saw that my sister was already dressed. She spun me around and pulled my wavy hair into a high ponytail with small pieces left framing my face. "I was always jealous of your hair," Althea started, "It's just so golden while mine is dull brown, it's like the heavens shine down on you."

I sighed, "Let's just hope the heavens are looking over me today." I turned around to face her again, "I'm seventeen which means my name would only normally be in there five times but with all the tesseraes we've gotten I have more of a chance getting picked than not." She smiled sadly but knew I was right. It's not like I was bitter about the tesseraes, more sad. I was completely willing to take them since my sister's pregnancy restricted a lot of work for her and soon we would have another mouth to feed.

"Well, we should get going then." I nodded and we left. We headed towards the main square with the rest of the district. I stood in line, after giving Althie a hug, waiting to sign in. Peackeepers surrounded the main square and I couldn't help but glare at them. I always felt they were at least a little responsible for Richter's death. If they would've been doing their jobs and 'keeping the peace' he wouldn't be dead, none of the casualties would be. After signing in I was guided to the section where the rest of the seventeen year old girls were. We waited a few minutes before our escort, Verona Vacca, came out. She was extremely odd looking and on reaping days she always tried to represent our district. Today she was wearing a purple cow print puffed out dress and the most ridiculous pair of silver cowgirl boots. Her hair, half up half down, went from dark purple at her roots to magenta at the tips. I couldn't help but snicker at her. She looked ridiculous.

She walked up to the microphone on stage and spoke in her high pitched, bubbly voice. She spoke of the Capitol and then played the video we watch every year. It was narrated by President Snow and spoke of the Dark Days and all I could think was, Okay! We get it! After the video finished Verona continued, "Happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor! Now why don't we get right to it then, ladies first now, boys!" She walked over to the abnormally large milk jugs that were used especially for the reapings, moved her hand around and pulled out a small slip of paper. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Holding it out in front of her, she opened it and read the name, "Shaylin Herba."

My heart stopped and my breath caught in my throat. I guess I shouldn't be surprised but I was. I was called.

My name was called.